SULPICIUS SEVERUS (b. c.360, d. perhaps c.430), historian and hagiographer. Sulpicius was a rising advocate in Aquitaine until his wife’s death, his friend Paulinus of Nola’s example, and Martin of Tours’s exhortations led to his conversion to asceticism (c.394). He established a community on his estate of Primuliacum in SW Gaul, where he lived a gentlemanly version of the religious life. His Life of Martin (396), a literary tour de force, was highly influential on later hagiography. Although composed within Martin’s lifetime, it portrays him as a man of God, attested by miracles. Later Sulpicius added 3 letters, and then the Dialogues (c.405), where Martin’s thaumaturgical powers are compared favourably with those of the Egyptian ascetics. Sulpicius also wrote a Chronicle, which summarizes OT and then early Church history from the Creation to AD 400 in classical style, utilizing both Christian and pagan sources. It evinces a critical regard for chronology, and is an important source for the Priscillianist movement. Acc. to Gennadius, Sulpicius was a priest, and in his old age he was temporarily inclined towards Pelagianism. This statement suggests that he was still alive during the Semipelagian controversy of the 420s, though we have no contemporary information about him after c.404.
Editio princeps of his collected works by V. Giselinus (Antwerp, 1574); also ed. Hieronymus de Prato (2 vols., Verona, 1741–54), repr. in J. P. Migne, PL 20. 95–222. Crit. edn. by C. Halm (CSEL 1; 1866). Eng. tr. by A. Roberts (NPNCF, 2nd ser., vol. 11, 1894, pp. 3–122), and of Life of St Martin, Letters, and Dialogues by B. M. Peebles (Fathers of the Church, 7, New York, 1949, pp. 101–251). Life of St Martin ed., with Fr.tr., introd. and comm., by J. Fontaine (SC 133–5; 1967–9), and, with Ital. tr., by J. W. Smit and L. Canali (Vite dei Santi, 4, 1975, pp. 1–67). Dialogues ed., with Ital.tr., by G. Augello (Palermo, 1969); note also E. C. Babut, ‘Sur trois lignes inédites de Sulpice Sévère’, Le Moyen Âge, 19 (1906), pp. 205–13. Chronicle ed., with Fr.tr., by G. de Senneville-Grave (SC 441; 1999). The chief source for Sulpicius’ life is Paulinus of Nola’s letters; also Gennadius, De vir. ill. 19. C. [E.] Stancliffe, St Martin and his Hagiographer: History and Miracle in Sulpicius Severus (Oxford Historical Monographs, 1983). F. Ghizzoni, Sulpicio Severo (Università degli Studi di Parma. Istituto di Lingua e Letteratura Latina, 8 ). A. Rous[s]elle-Estève, ‘Deux exemples d’évangélisation en Gaule à la fin du IVe siècle: Paulin de Nole et Sulpice Sévère’, Fédération historique du Languedoc méditerranéen et du Roussillon, XLIIIe Congrès (Béziers, 30–31 Mai 1970) (Montpellier, 1971), pp. 91–8. G. K. van Andel, ‘Sulpicius Severus and Origenism’, VC 34 (1980), pp. 278–87. J. Bernays, Ueber die Chronik des Sulpicius Severus (1861); S. Prete, I Chronica di Sulpicio Severo (Collezione ‘Amici delle catacombe’, 24; 1955); G. K. van Andel, The Christian Concept of History in the Chronicle of Sulpicius Severus (Amsterdam, 1976); F. Murru, ‘La concezione della storia nei Chronica di Sulpicio Severo: alcune linee di studio’, Latomus, 38 (1979), pp. 961–81. J. Fontaine in Dict. Sp. 14 (1990), cols. 1301–8, s.v. See also bibl. to martin, st.
PL Patrologia Latina, ed. J. P. *Migne (221 vols., Paris, 1844–64).
CSEL Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum (Vienna, 1866 ff.).
NPNCF Nicene and Post-Nicene Christian Fathers (New York, 1887–92; Oxford, 1890–1900).
St Summa Theologica or *Summa Theologiae.
SC Sources Chrétiennes (Paris, 1942 ff.).
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